Before he became an international star playing prominent roles in movies like Eastern Promises and The International, Armin Mueller-Stahl was a successful film and stage actor in East Germany, starring in films such The Third and Jacob, the Liar. On East-German TV, he also played the main character of the popular series Das unsichtbare Visier (english translation) The Invisible Target from 1973-1979, a spy thriller program designed, in co-operation with the Stasi, as an East Bloc counterpart to the James Bond franchise.
The spy Werner Brede Busch of the GDR Ministry for State Security (Armin Mueller-Stahl) has managed to penetrate ex-fascists in the Argentine military, former Nazi SS soldiers and war profiteers from the West. He travels to exotic locals under the guise as the (fallen) fighter pilot Detjen. Along with keeping a Bond like theme, “The Invisible Target” also dealt with Germany’s past from an East Germany view.
The GDR (East Germany) hardly is mention in the series, only in the form of the Stasi-boss, who care for the Bond like hero Brede Busch aka Detjen, and sends roses for his lonely mother back home in the GDR. The series antagonist were primarily West Germans, which were portrayed as superficial and materialistic and driven by dark forces. Despite its portrayal of the West the series gained a cult following in both East and West Germany during the Cold War and the series is still very popular in the whole of Germany today.
In 1976 Armin Mueller-Stahl protested against his friend Wolf Biermann’s “de-naturalization” and was blacklisted by the government even though he was allowed to play the character for three more years. Because of the GDR’s continuing antagonism, Stahl emigrated to West Germany in 1980 and found ample work in the West German film industry and later in Hollywood.